*update: Instagram has changed their crop restrictions!
PSA: USE THE FULL 1:1 ASPECT RATIO!
Please. It just looks plain silly when you convert the aspect ratio of your Instagrams to fit into the 1:1 frame.
Instagram is and has always been famous for it's 1:1 aspect ratio. It pays tribute to the original Polaroid squarestyled photos and I believe this will never change. This is why it is important to conform to this crop ratio and take full advantage of it.
Take the picture above for example. This Instagrammers photos are actually decent if you look at them individually, but his feed looks terrible and nonuniform because of all the random white space caused by the cropping.
I have seen this too often on what would otherwise be promising Instagram feeds. Some lnstagrammers even try to have their entire Instagram gallery converted to the same (wrong) frame size in the hunt for uniformity. Sorry, this still looks silly. It doesn't work, at least not in Instagram.
Instagram is designed to be square
The UI of Instagram was built for 1:1 and looks best when all your photos are in the full 1:1 format. The picture below is a solid example of how an Instagram feed is designed to look like:
It just flows.
I know how tempting it can be to want to convert a standard 3:2 photo into Instagrams square format. Sometimes the photo just doesn't look right if it isn't converted to show the photo in its entirety. This is understandable, as the traditional frame ratio is 3x2; all cameras are set to this default ratio as standard. So when we take photos we frame subject and contents of the photo for the default 3:2 ratio. Even I'm guilty of this:
The picture above feels incomplete when its in the 1:1 format because I've cropped out the main feature of it. My first instincts were to convert the full 16:9 image to a square format so that I could post the entire image. Don't give into the temptation!
First impressions count!
When a new user is deciding whether or not to follow you, they will most likely check out your feed first to make sure that you have consistent, quality photos. You basically have one chance at this.
Don't ruin this chance by making your photos unnecessarily smaller! The screen real estate you're working with is small enough already on a smartphone's screen. Now divide that available space into tiny thumbnails for your gallery to make the images even smaller. All that white space in your gallery has been practically wasted.
Don't fight the UI, work with it!
It is pretty simple: if your photo doesn't look right when it is cropped to the 1:1 ratio, it isn't meant to be an Instagram photo. Post it on other social media mediums like Tumblr or Twitter or your own blog where you can display the full picture in all it's glory, but don't Instagram it. Think of all the extra effort you'll also save; no more formatting in third party apps and wasting time!
If you're specifically taking a photo for Instagram, make sure you have the 1:1 ratio in mind when framing your shot. To the very least, keep in mind the photos usability if it were to be cropped to the 1:1 format.
Most cameras and smartphones have built in functions to help you frame your photo in the 1:1 ratio now. On your iPhone it's as easy as swiping to the left to access the square photo formatting.
If any of your friends are guilty of this, do them a favour! Share this post with them.